Ousted lawmaker Baggio Leung and activist Kwok Cheuk-kin have asked a court to issue an interim injunction to suspend the controversial joint checkpoint arrangement for the upcoming Express Rail Link, until all five legal challenges against it have concluded.
Last week, the High Court decided to hear the five legal challenges against the plan together on October 30 – weeks after the rail link is set to begin operations in September.
Under the proposal passed by the legislature on June 14, Hong Kong will effectively give up its jurisdiction across a quarter of the new West Kowloon terminus, where immigration and customs procedures will be performed by mainland law enforcement agents. The arrangement was intended for faster clearance so that passengers would not have to leave the train at the border.
Leung and Kwok, commonly known as “King of Judicial Review,” were among the applicants. They originally did not have legal representatives, but later agreed to be represented by three other applicants’ lawyers.
Their applications said the injunction should be handed down since there were clear legal issues to handle, with the constitutional rights of all Hong Kong residents at stake. Plus, both the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Hong Kong Law Society have raised questions over the plan’s constitutionality.
They also said that, if the plan is implemented, the credibility of Hong Kong’s rule of law and the potential for Hong Kong to become an international arbitration centre “will inevitably be harmed.” They said the effect will be much wider, compared to travel convenience for a small number of tourists and the business interests of some residents and companies.
The court will hear their applications on August 10.
During the hearing on the legal challenge applications last week, the Department of Justice, represented by Senior Counsel Benjamin Yu, had said in court that the decision to implement the plan – made by the top Chinese legislature last year – cannot be challenged by Hong Kong courts.
Mr Justice Anderson Chow allowed the government to submit a report from a mainland legal expert to the court. The report, according to Yu, was about the nature, importance and the influence of the top Chinese legislature decision.